Par for the Course: New head pro excited for first tournament at Poland Spring

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John King has come home in a special and historic manner.

The new head professional at Poland Spring was hired in March, after being an award-winning teaching pro in Florida and Alabama for many years. Moving from Florida to director of instruction at Saugahatchee Country Club in Opelika, Alabama, King made his mark with numerous instructional honors including an award as Dixie Section PGA Teacher of the Year in 2007.

He got so good at that job that he opened his own business called The Golf Performance Studio of Auburn (Alabama) in 2014, and operated that company until he took the Poland Spring job.

In terms of coming home, it should be noted that King grew up in Portland, is a 1985 graduate of Portland High School and attended the University of Southern Maine. He lived in Maine, working at golf courses until he went to Naples, Florida, where he met golf playing and broadcasting legend Ken Venturi, who hired King to work at his golf academy in Greenville, North Carolina, 19 years ago. Since then, as a teaching pro, he has been employed in North Carolina, Florida and Alabama. And now, he has returned to his home state.

On June 6, King and his staff will accept their first tournament challenge when the Poland Spring Preservation Society conducts its annual Maine Heritage Scramble on the United States’ oldest resort golf course, designed by Arthur Fenn and Donald Ross. Proceeds of the tournament go to the preservation of the Maine State Building and All Souls Chapel, two beautiful buildings on the ground of the Poland Spring Resort. For the first time, the event is sold out.

King has heard a great deal about the tournament and the history of the course and resort, and he thinks that running it will be a highlight of his golf tournament season as the event continues to be more special.

“There’s so much history there,” King said. “Raising money for the Preservation Society means a lot. And it is my job to make sure that all players have an enjoyable day.”

For the past two years, this event has marked the placement of historic photos of events at the course on every tee box.

“This year we are posting 18 new photos on the tee boxes,” said Jim Delamater, the tournament chairman. “Signs are a huge part of the course. There is no problem with photographic content at Poland Spring.”

In other words, old and historic photos are abundant, and they point out the rich history of Poland Spring.

There will be holes on which players will tee off with clubs made of wooden shafts, and there will be several players who don turn-of-the-century garb. It truly is a neat event.

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Martindale’s Joe Baker, Craig Chapman, Jace Pearson and Andrew Slattery won the Maine State Golf Association Club Team Championship on May 20 (best two-of-four ball) with an 11-under-par score of 131 at Belgrade Lakes. That score was two shots better than defending champion J.W. Park, and it marked the third time in six years that a Martindale team has prevailed in this tournament. Chapman led the way with five birdies, while Baker made three, Slattery two and Pearson one.

On May 21 at Belgrade Lakes, the Wilson Lake quarter of Don DiPompo, Stew Durell, Gregory Nemi and Randy Oliver shot a 22-under 120 to win the net championship of the MSGA Senior Team competition.

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Entries are being accepted for the Mid-Coast Amateur Championship scheduled June 2-3.

‘A’ and ‘B’ flights will play at the Bath Golf Club on June 2 and at the Boothbay Harbor Golf Club on June 3. ‘C’ and ‘D’ flights, along with a women’s flight will be played June 2 at Boothbay Harbor, and they will finish June 3 at Bath. To sign up for the tournament click onto www.MidCoastAmateur.com.

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The MSGA Weekend Tour resumes June 1 and 2 at Webhannet. Also during the coming week for the “new and improved” MSGA, now boasting female tournaments, are women’s weekly events May 29 at Spring Meadow and Biddeford-Saco. On the men’s side, there is a men’s Senior Tour event May 31 at Brunswick.

Bill Kennedy

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